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Apologies were received from the following members of the panel:
Cllr Sohail Khan
Cllr John Rowley
Cllr Beverley Momenabadi
Cllr Clare Simm
Declarations of interest
There were no declarations of interest recorded.
[Adrian Leach,Head of Special Education Needs and Disability, to present report]
Cllr Dr Michael Hardacre, Education and Skills, introduced the report and outlined the background to the drafting of the proposed changes to the current All Age Travel Assistance Policy. The Cabinet Member advised the panel of the main findings from the public consultation and the changes made in response to feedback received. The Cabinet Member explained that the underlying philosophy was to be a ‘good parent’ and give children and young people the opportunity to become more independent travellers and to learn new life skills. The Cabinet Member accepted that the proposed changes to the policy will take time to implement.
The Cabinet Member referred to the statutory responsibilities of the Council to promote the use of sustainable travel and transport to children and young people of compulsory school age. The Cabinet Member explained the responsibilities of parents to ensure their child receives suitable education and accompanying then to school was considered to be part of this responsibility. The Cabinet Member advised that an example of the change might be a young person could be issued with a bus pass or collected from a nearby bus stop rather than outside their home.
The Cabinet Member advised the panel that major change to the current policy will be the introduction of charges for young people of sixth form age. The panel were advised that the policy change will be introduced from September 2021 and the schools and colleges will be reminded that they have been funded by Government to provide financial support through bursaries to meet their travel costs in the future.
The Cabinet Member added that the Council has no power to direct schools to do this and it will be a challenge, but it is part of the new approach to encourage and support people to travel independently; while recognising for some pupil that this will not be an option because of their particular disability or illness.
The response to the consultation paper was supportive of the proposed change in policy. The panel were invited to comment on the proposals.
The panel suggested that the proposals listed in para 4.3 of the report should be reorganised in priority and the current proposal 9 should be first priority to reflect the new policy regarding travel assistance. The Cabinet Member accepted the suggestion and agreed to review the list in terms of priority.
The panel queried whether applicants whose current health is such that there would be no realistic expectation that they could become an independent travel would still need to be assessed under the new policy. Emma Bennett, Director of Children’s Services, confirmed that each would be assessed as the aim was to offer personalised support. The assessment should be seen as positive opportunity to identify a person’s needs and provide appropriate support that will better meet their needs; particularly for people with complex physical and/or behavioural needs.
The panel queried the extent of the choice that people would be offered at the end of the assessment process.
Cabinet Member ... view the full minutes text for item 3.